Monday, June 20, 2011

Holowczyn Project: Swedish Commanders and something else..

In the previous posts I forget to mention a very good scenario for the batlle, filled with informations: it was done by Nick Dorrell for the Polemos rule and can be found at the the Wyre Forest Games Club link:

The scenario, well documented and probably the best available up today, allows for full Russian reinforcements and was presented in Miniature Wargaming.  The same Nick Dorrel is the author of the book "The dawn of the Tsarist Empire. The Russian Campaigns of 1708-1709" which deals also with the other actions of 1708-09 campaign, Holowczyn amongst them:

Looking at the same site, there are many informations about armies and tactics: at the following link a complete description of the Russian Cavalry which confirms the uncertainity about "who was there", is given.

Back to our little plastic men, the Swedish commanders, Sparre and Creutz (the latter already seen in-progress few posts ago)

Here all the Swedish commanders, probably preparing the night surprise attack at the Russian positions:

I also finished the last Swedish gun, here with the others two behind an home-made entrenchment:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Holowczyn Project: the Repnin Division

In the last post I showed the contrasting informations about the Goltz cavalry and the Sheremetev troops which joined the battle. Now, one can ask: why? From a strictly wargaming point, the relevant informations are that Goltz was able to bring into the battle 8-10 cavalry regiments, in three distint groups, and that the first group, that under the command of Ifland, was composed by three regiments. As far as Sheremetev was concerned, he brought an handful of regiments, say 4-6 battalions, maybe with some cavalry. Then, why one would to know which regiments and exactly how many and where?

A good part of hour hobby is research, for manifold reasons: "I want to have exactly all the regiments which were present, and with the correct uniform" or "I would to unravel the details of the battle" or simply "I want to know the most about the battle". On the other hand, as a professional researcher, I know that the undetermined is a relevant part of every day life. In battle, an event which all the accounts of the participants describe as dominated by the chaos, this is a fortiori true.

I think that the important thing is to try to know the more is possible and then give a reasonable answer, which is not the truth, rather a reasonable well-approximated rendering of the truth (I say truth, reality is another matter..).

Going back to the Russian OoB, when one looks at the sources, none seems to rely on Russian sources. I have many recent Russian books on the Great Norther Wars, some of them clearly aimed at wargamers, but none of them gives more informations on the forces present at Holowczyn.   A further step would be to get the already mentioned PhD in Eastern Modern History but for me this is out of question.  

So I turned to the compromise of taking for my wargame the OoB in the Eglund's boardgame: it has 10 regiments in three brigades with Goltz and gives 1 regiment of cavalry to Sheremetev, which gives a little more "chrome". Moreover, when we look at the uniforms, there are some regiments with "unknown" uniforms or part of it. In such a case  I relied either on guesswork, or pure fantasy and at least in one case I painted a different regiment in place of the prescribed one.

With this in mind, I post the following pictures of Repnin and the Russian Infantry:

Prince Anikita Repnin (1668-1726): after the defeat at Holowczyn, he was degraded to the ranks, but was pardoned as a reward for his valour at Lesnaya and recovered all his lost dignities. Here is represented as CC with a trumpeter.

The brigade von Schweden from his division was comprised of the following regiments:

Rostovski, raised in Kazan 1700 as K. Gulitz  Regiment; the pikemen are from Strelets Peter the Great Guards, the fat-bellied officier is from Mars Saxon Infantry. The others are Zvedza with the kartuz obtained by simply cutting the tricorne.

Lefortski, raised in Moscow 1642 as an Old Foreign regiment, one of the few regiments which  still maintained the name of his Colonel after 1706. At Holowczyn his commander was Minstermann; it is one the red-coated regiments of the army.

Ryazanski, raised in Moscow 1703 as Colonel Kuper (probably Cooper) Regiment; on the left base the pikemen is Zvedza and the drummer Strelets.

Prince Repnin's Grenadier, raised in 1708 from the grenadiers of Butirski, Belgorodski, Nevski, Perejaslavski, Tveski, Schlusselburgski, Jamburski, Nisjegorodski and Jarovslaski regiments, at Holwczyn commanded by Taylor. The base on the left is Strelets (Peter the Great Dragoons), that on the right Zvedza.
The other Repnin's brigade, that of Von Chambers, was formed by the regiments:

Koporieschski, raised in Kazan 1703 from Streltsi as Colonel Skripitzin Regiment;

Tobolski, raised in Moscow 1703 as Prince Repnin Regiment;

Narvski, a three battalion regiment raised in Moscow 1704 as von Schonbeck Regiment;

Vjatski, raised in Kazan 1700 as P. Berners Regiment. Each brigade was supported by an artillery battery of probably three 8 pounders and one howitzer:

the miniatures are from Strelets, since when I painted them the Zvedza artillery was not yet on the market. Anyway I like them, the worst part being the guns.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Holowczyn Project: Russian Order of battle

First of all the only contemporary map of the battle I was able to find:

and another modern depiction of the battle, this time from a swedish website:

The actual russian troops which took part at the battle are difficult to estimate. Of the nearly 30.000 which stood in the area probably no more than between 11.000-18.000 where actually engaged. Indeed looking at the Nafziger OoB (708GAA) one founds an estimate of 7.500 soldiers for the Repnin command in 17 battalions, 10.000 horses in ten regiments for the Goltz cavalry together with nearly 4.000 cossacks (7500 in eight regiments and 1500 respectively according to the OoB given Konstam’s Osprey) and other 7.800 in 18 battalions from the Sheremetev command.
When one look at the regiments which actually took part in the battle, Nafziger, Konstam and the battle honours given in Hoglund’s book gives conflicting informations. The best agreement is on Repnin’s command. Indeed, despite Konstam gives two brigades under Schweden and Chambers (whereas Nafziger gives three sub units, one of which commanded directly by Repnin), both list the same regiments. Strangely enough Hoglund doesn’t credit Narvski and Prince Repnin Grenadiers as present.
The situation is more confused about Goltz command as appears from the following table:



St. Peterburgski











Life Regiment






The Sheremetev infantry units listed by Konstam (Pskovski, Astrakhanski and Ingermalandski) seems to refer to those effectively engaged, whereas Nafziger lists Wiede Grenadiers (cited also by Hoglund) in place of the latter.

Since I want only to play a wargame and not to obtain a PhD in Eastern European history, I decided that the best compromise was to take the OoB from the Englund game, which seems based mostly on Nafziger (whose numbers for the Goltz cavalry seem a bit exagerated) with the Vladimirski cavalry credited to Sheremetev. As far as the Cossacks are concerned, since they were held at bay by the Valackers, I decided to leave them out alltogether.

Accordingly, my V&B Order of Battle for the Russians reads:

Russians Army ( approx. 10.000 Inf.,  4.500 Cav., 8 8pdrs. Guns, 4 Howitzers)
Note: at the beginning of the game, and until Scheremetjev arrives on table, Repnin is the Russian army commander. Once Scheremetjev arrives on table he assumes army command and Repnin becomes a CC under him.

Repnin's Wing: General of Infantry Prince Repnin (CC)

Gen. Lieut. Von Chambers (DC)
Koporieschski Regiment/I 2-4
Koporieschski Regiment/II 2-4
Tobolski Regiment/I 2-4
Tobolski Regiment/II 2-4
Narvski Regiment/I 2-4
Narvski Regiment/II 2-4
Narvski Regiment/III 2-4
Vjatski Regiment/I 3-4
Vjatski Regiment/II 3-4
Kogan's Artillery 2-5, fld

Gen. Maj. Von Schweden (DC)
Rostovski Regiment/I 2-4
Rostovski Regiment/II 2-4
Lefort Regiment/I 2-4
Lefort Regiment/II 2-4
Ryazanski Regiment/I 2-4
Ryazanski Regiment/II 2-4
Prince Repnin's Grenadier Regt/I 3-5
Prince Repnin's Grenadier Regt/II 3-5
Repnin's Artillery 2-5, fld

Goltz wing: Gen. Field Marshal Lieutnant Von Der Goltz (CC)

Gen. Maj. Ifland(DC)
Pskovski Dragoon Regiment 2-4 md
Tverskoy Dragoon Regiment 2-4 md
Belozerski Dragoon Regiment 2-4 md

Gen. Lieut. Heinske (DC)
St Petersburgski Dragoon Regiment 2-4 md
Azovski Dragoon Regiment 2-4 md
Ryazanski Dragoon Regiment 2-4 md

Gen. Lieut. Von Hessen Darmstadt (DC)
Astrakhanski Dragoon Regiment 2-4 md
Troitski Dragoon Regiment 2-4 md
Novgorodski Dragoon Regiment 2-4 md
Nishegorodski Dragoon Regiment 2-4 md

Scheremetjev Wing: General Scheremetjev (AC)

Renne (DC)
Schere's Battery 2-5 fld
Vladimirski Dragoon Regiment 2-4, md
Ingermanlandski Regiment/I 2-4
Ingermanlandski Regiment/II 2-4

Gen. Maj. d'Albion (DC)
Pskovski Regiment/I 3-4
Pskovski Regiment/II 2-4
Astrakhanski Regiment/I 2-4
Astrakhanski Regiment/II 2-4